Ao by Linda Ching
The 38th and 39th words of Linda Ching’s new masterpiece, “AO, Ten Years of Light,” are my first and last names. She credits me for doing something, which is akin to Michelangelo saluting the guy who held the ladder steady as he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Let me redo the mahalo: To Peter Gellatly, who was lucky enough to ride the wave of my immense talent as I did things with a camera that absolutely no one else could ever do. That’s better.
Linda Ching’s photography sings the songs of Hawaii — the oli, the pule, the mo‘olelo — with a nearly unimaginable brilliance, clarity and warmth. Her retrospective of a decade’s worth of bringing these songs to life on the pages of magazines who cradled her images like the precious newborns they were at the time is a symphonic success. Go buy the book today. Give one to everyone you love who loves Hawaii, everyone you love whom you want to love Hawaii. Give one to anyone you know who might doubt that we live in one of the most special places on earth. And one to somebody who might be contemplating another big building or big mall or big transit system that might not honor the aina. Keep one for yourself and don’t read it all at once. Take it one story at a time, maybe at sunset or first thing in the morning, to start your day with hope. Linger and know that right here, somehow, all of what she says in pictures and words is alive … today.
The subjects of Ching’s stories range from rascally Maui to heroic Ku to a slumbering Pele to Kauai’s menehune to those seeking desperately the safety of a Pu‘uhonua. My favorite is the title story, AO. Briefly, each of us is born with a bowl of light. The world’s woes and our own foul actions suffocate that light, which is all we really need to be who and what we should be. According to the legend, all we need to do is drag our folder of worries to the trash and click “empty” and, voila, we are whole again. Is it ever too late to do that? I think not.
It also is never too late for this humble ladder-holder to praise the goddess above. Linda, for the beauty and joy you have brought to my life, and now to the world with your rich and exquisite new book, AO, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Peter Gellatly for Pacific Network
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